Parliament: Two initiatives to help S’pore economy bounce back from Covid-19 crisis, build social resilience, says DPM Heng

Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that the current crisis is unprecedented - as is the Government's decision to roll out, in 48 days, three aid packages. PHOTO: GOV.SG

SINGAPORE - When the Covid-19 pandemic is tamed and overcome, two new initiatives will step forward to build up Singapore's resilience, both economically and socially, said Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat on Tuesday (April 7).

One is the Emerging Stronger task force on economic resilience while the other is a refreshed Singapore Together movement with a new emphasis on social resilience, he told the House in rounding up the debate on the Supplementary Budget.

The movement was set up last June for the Government and Singaporeans to work together on policy solutions.

In his speech, Mr Heng said: "The Covid-19 fight still has a long way to go, and things will get tougher before they improve. But one way or other eventually it will pass - not next week, not next month, but perhaps within a year or two.

"The question we should ask ourselves even now is when that day comes, what sort of world will it be and how ready Singapore will be to march forward again."

The new task force will review how Singapore will stay economically resilient and build new sources of dynamism after the pandemic is over, helping the country bounce back from the crisis.

It will be chaired by Minister for Social and Family Development Desmond Lee and group chief executive of PSA International, Mr Tan Chong Meng.

Mr Lee also leads the Singapore Together movement with Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Indranee Rajah.

Together, the two minister will mobilise Singaporeans to explore how partnerships between the Government and the people can be deepened, as well as ties between Singaporeans and others around the world.

"Let us use this crisis period well," Mr Heng said. "This will be a whole of nation effort, which will take our collective energies and ideas to do well."

Mr Heng, who is also the Finance Minister, noted that the current crisis is unprecedented - as is the Government's decision to roll out, in 48 days, three aid packages in the Unity, Resilience and Solidarity budgets.

Nearly $60 billion has been set aside to help the country ride out the crisis, the largest amount Singapore has ever spent in a financial year.

And the global nature of the crisis has made dealing with it much more complex, as the global aggregate demand is sharply reduced while the global supply chain has been disrupted.

In Singapore, the Government's immediate priority has been to save jobs and keep businesses running, as well as to help families put food on the table.

Mr Heng said Singapore will need to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic on a "sustainable basis", as it may feel its aftermath for a long time. This means tapping past reserves again if the crisis deepens, he added.

"While we must make plans, and we are, at this hour, let us all focus our minds fully on making the best use of this very unprecedented Budget, to build social and economic resilience," he said.

He also said the "national stock of resilience is made up of all our individual stocks of resilience".

"Ultimately, the long-drawn fight against the virus will be won by us standing together as one united people."

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